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New York Man Wins $26 Million Jackpot (Mega Millions)

Forty-five-year-old Isabel Zelaya of Wyandanch, Suffolk County, is not the superstitious sort. That explains why Zelaya, a night shift worker for the Hicksville-based Coral Graphics Services, Inc., scoffed at his friends who advised him against spending $3 on a chance to win a $26,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot drawn on Friday the 13th.

“I knew it was my lucky day no matter what the calendar said,” gushed Zelaya, who purchased the sole jackpot winning ticket for the March 13, 2009 Mega Millions drawing. “I’m living proof that luck trumps superstition.”

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 176 million. 

A native of El Salvador whose family settled in New York 26 years ago, Zelaya said he only started playing the Lottery within the past year with the dream of starting his own business.

isabel Zalaya
Isabel Zelaya

“I want to be my own boss for a change,” said the former restaurant worker and aspiring restaurateur. “Winning the jackpot gives me the chance to make my life different. It’s a happy feeling.”

The father of two purchased his winning Quick Pick Mega Millions ticket on March 13, 2009 at the P & T Supermarket at 1293 Straight Path in Wyandanch. He claimed it the following Monday at the Lottery’s Customer Service Center in Garden City. Zelaya opted to receive his $26,000,000 jackpot prize in one lump sum payment with a cash value of $17,716,535 before required tax withholdings. His net check will total $12,073,818.

Click here to get your Mega Millions Lottery tickets online - it could be you!

Press Release: Multi-State Lottery Assocation


Neal Wanless of rural Mission today claimed the 10th largest Powerball jackpot won in the history of the multi-state lottery game. The 23-year-old rancher appeared with South Dakota Lottery officials at an award ceremony in Pierre after claiming the $232.1 million he won in the 27 May 27 drawing.

Wanless chose to receive the jackpot as a one-time cash prize of $118,005,530. After federal tax withholding, he will receive a prize payment $88,504,147, not including another $100 he won on the same ticket. The jackpot- winning numbers represent the day and month of family members' birthdays. The lucky combination was the fourth of five plays on a $5 ticket. The winning ticket was purchased at the Ampride store in Winner. Wanless and his family stop at the store when they make the 35-mile trip to Winner to buy feed. The store will receive a $50,000 bonus for selling the lucky ticket.

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